Make us your home page

Progress Energy closer to building Levy County power plant after NRC approval

WASHINGTON — The Nuclear Regulatory Commission on Thursday unanimously approved a radical new reactor design that Progress Energy proposes to use for construction of its $20 billion Levy County power plant. The decision is a milestone in the much-delayed revival of nuclear plant construction sought by the industry.

The commission took the unusual step of waiving the usual 30-day waiting period to approve the reactor design, the Westinghouse AP1000, so its decision will be effective in about a week. That moves the utilities closer to the point where they can start pouring concrete for safety-related parts of the plant.

In addition to bolstering Progress Energy's plans, the vote is a major step forward for utility companies in Georgia and the Carolinas, which also have billions of dollars riding on plans to build AP1000 reactors in the Southeast. Without NRC approval, the utilities could not get a license to build their plants.

Progress wants to build two reactors using the AP1000 — a 1,100-megawatt electric pressurized-water reactor — on a 3,000-acre site in Levy County about 8 miles north of the utility's Crystal River nuclear and coal energy complex.

Although Progress continues to move forward with the project, it has not made a final decision to build the plant. Progress' 1.6 million Florida customers have been paying in advance for the proposed plant since 2009.

Any final decision about whether Progress Energy will build the plant won't come until after the NRC completes its review of the utility's license application. The results of the review are expected in late 2012 or early 2013.

The AP1000 has a so-called advanced passive design that relies more heavily on forces such as gravity and natural heat convection and less on pumps, valves and operator actions than other reactors, in theory diminishing the probability of an accident.

For example, it is supposed to shut down safely if all electrical power is lost, which is what happened at the Fukushima Daiichi plant in Japan after the earthquake and tsunami in March.

Opponents of the reactor, among them the North Carolina group NC Warn, have argued that no new designs should be certified until the lessons of the Fukushima accident have been fully absorbed.

But the chairman of the commission, Gregory B. Jaczko, said that all of the panel's safety concerns had been addressed.

"The design provides enhanced safety margins through use of simplified, inherent, passive, or other innovative safety and security functions, and also has been assessed to ensure it could withstand damage from an aircraft impact without significant release of radioactive materials," he said in a statement.

Times staff writer Ivan Penn contributed to this report.

Progress Energy closer to building Levy County power plant after NRC approval 12/22/11 [Last modified: Friday, December 23, 2011 7:39am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, New York Times.

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. New owners take over downtown St. Petersburg's Hofbräuhaus


    ST. PETERSBURG — The downtown German beer-hall Hofbräuhaus St. Petersburg has been bought by a partnership led by former Checkers Drive-In Restaurants president Keith Sirois.

    The Hofbrauhaus, St. Petersburg, located in the former historic Tramor Cafeteria, St. Petersburg, is under new ownership.

  2. Boho Hunter will target fashions in Hyde Park


    Boho Hunter, a boutique based in Miami's Wynwood District, will expand into Tampa with its very first franchise.

    Palma Canaria bags will be among the featured items at Boho Hunter when it opens in October. Photo courtesy of Boho Hunter.
  3. Gallery now bringing useful art to Hyde Park customers


    HYDE PARK — In 1998, Mike and Sue Shapiro opened a gallery in St. Petersburg along Central Ave., with a majority of the space dedicated to Sue's clay studio.

     As Sue Shapiro continued to work on her pottery in St. Petersburg, her retail space grew and her studio shrunk. Now Shapiro's is bringing wares like these to Hyde Park Village. Photo courtesy of Shapiro's.
  4. Appointments at Raymond James Bank and Saint Leo University highlight this week's Tampa Bay business Movers & Shakers



    Raymond James Bank has hired Grace Jackson to serve as executive vice president and chief operating officer. Jackson will oversee all of Raymond James Bank's operational business elements, risk management and strategic planning functions. Kackson joins Raymond James Bank after senior …

    Raymond James Bank has hired Grace Jackson to serve as executive vice president and chief operating officer. [Company handout]
  5. Cooking passion spurs owner to pull open AJ's Kitchen Drawer


    TAMPA — After graduating from the University of Tampa in May 2016, AJ Albrecht spent four months traveling around Southeast Asia and Australia.

    AJs Kitchen Drawer offers a wide variety of unique kitchenware items, such as handcrafted knives and wooden items, as well as local gourmet products. Photo by Danielle Hauser